8 Steps How to Develop a Mental Health Application [+Features and Best App Examples]
When it comes to mental health apps we’re talking about the products that help us manage our life more effectively. As mental health apps statistics show, there are more than 20,000 teletherapy apps on the market, and numbers just keep growing!
Whether it is stress, anxiety, PTSD, or simple meditation, digital therapy apps have got us covered. If you are a healthcare startup looking to create a mental health application or a medical company that wants to digitize its business, this article will show you how to develop a mental wellness app as well as provide mental health app examples.
What is Mental Health App Development in 2022
The mental health app market holds a significant place in the healthcare industry and is mainly focused on working with individuals affected by various psychological issues. After the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded more and more people started to face psychological challenges due to social distancing and strict lockdowns.
Health disorders, stress, depression, and bad habits all became common for many. Mental health apps provide support in these situations. They help users prevent the development of such issues or fight them if they have already occurred.
What Are The Best Mental Health App Examples
A service that targets a young audience (12-25 y.o.) helping them improve their overall well-being. The platform provides meditation functionality focused on addressing mental and sexual health issues, and drug and alcohol problems. It offers several in-app programs, comes with a session timer, and progress tracking, and has a well-developed app community.
Better Stop Suicide
As the name implies, this is a suicide prevention app. It is free and offers some useful mental techniques and 'feel-better' tasks that could help users cope with their inner state in critical situations. For example, Better Stop Suicide comes with an alarm clock, calming audio files, the ability to add key phone contacts, and to record your own 'life-saving' message.
This mental fitness app helps people to recover from all kinds of eating disorders, including bulimia, anorexia, ARFID, etc. The platform lets users track their progress, get affirmations, set up meal reminders, and form personalized schedules. Recovery Record has also a subsidiary HIPAA-compliant app for physicians allowing them to assist patients during the recovery process.
One of the most popular apps used for sleep improvement and meditation. Calm focuses on calming audiovisual content designed to help users cope with stress and anxiety-related conditions. The app comes with a few subscription plans that also offer multi-day meditation sessions within the trial version of the app.
A simple yet very useful app that aims at helping users calm down and relax via different breathing techniques. iBreathe has a simple and clear interface and comes with customizable reminders and predefined programs designed specifically to reduce stress, insomnia, and anxiety.
Essential Features of Mental Health Apps
In order to develop a mental health tracking app it's necessary to know which features can be added. So, let's briefly go over the list of the most common ones that you will see in many telehealth mobile applications.
This is where all the general information about the user is kept: name, age, gender, photo, important medical data, etc. The user profile may also store in-app rewards, purchase history, promo codes, and even medical prescriptions.
By adding audio and video features you will allow for online consultations with therapists to be conducted in the most effective way. It's important to give users freedom of choice here, meaning those who aren't comfortable talking about their health on camera should be able to do it via text chat instead.
Keeping users engaged with the app is one of the major priorities for developers. By adding in-app rewards and badges, you will give users a reason to come back to the app again and again. But not only that! Gamification motivates users to complete in-app tasks and achieve their goals, which is extremely important for the mental health product.
Giving users an easy and convenient way to track their current results is yet another useful functionality that can be added to the app. If the mental health solution involves a remote monitoring module, dashboards will also come in handy for therapists to oversee patients' vitals in a convenient format and take action if something goes wrong.
Notifications play a significant role in mental health applications. Not only do they remind users of in-app activities, but also serve as a kind of a 'shake-up' reminder for suicide prevention and depression apps especially, helping a person to get back to their normal state in case they're struggling with negative thoughts.
Not critical but still a very helpful module that can give users important medical insights and some additional information about the product. The knowledge base may also include FAQs, links to trustworthy resources, and a user support section.
In addition to the dashboards, the progress tracker is a powerful feature that allows users to receive information regarding their progress. The mental health app may also feature several trackers in case users set several goals they are aiming to achieve.
How To Create A Mental Health App: 8-Step Process
1. Decide on your target audience
First of all, it's necessary to define who will be using your product. To do that, conduct market research, define the main problems that users in your market niche deal with, and create a user profile or list of characteristics that define your ideal customer. You also need to conduct competitor research to figure out if there are already any apps that target the same group of people.
2. Consider basic mental app features
When deciding what features to implement you should always keep the main idea of your app in mind and gear all the functionalities around it. Divide all your features into two categories — primary and secondary.
Primary are the core features that ensure the app performs its initial function; the one that it was built for in the first place. Secondary ones are implemented to support or extend the primary functionality. More about different features you can find in 15 Must-have Telehealth App Features for Doctors and Patients.
3. Choose your tech. stack
We recommend choosing a tech stack in accordance with your project requirements and the goals you set for your future app. Depending on the size, functionality, and overall complexity of your solution, you'll want to adopt particular technologies.
4. Decide on a business model
The business model, or monetization model, defines how you will generate profit from the app in the short-term perspective. It helps you to better understand where the resources for future app updates and improvements will be coming from.
You can generate revenue from your product by 1) having users directly buy your app, 2) distributing the app for free and adding extra paid features to it, 3) embedding ads into your product, or 4) offering different subscription plan options within the app.
5. Define the scope of work
This is basically your roadmap that defines how long it will take for your team to design, build a mental health app, and launch it. By defining your scope of work in advance, you will be able to not only assess your future expenses but also have better control over the development process. It will further help you to estimate all possible risks and develop a corresponding mitigation strategy.
6. Build an app following one of the three development approaches
There are three ways to create mental health mobile apps: with the help of the in-house team, by outsourcing, or by hiring a few freelance developers. With the in-house team, you get the most control over your project, however, this is a costly option since all the expenses (salaries, rent, electricity bills, etc.) lie on your shoulders.
By outsourcing, you can significantly reduce app development costs. You get a product of the same quality compared to the in-house approach, provided you partner with a reliable outsourcing company.
Hiring freelance developers is the cheapest option among the three. However, this might be the riskiest one as freelance specialists can simply disappear in the middle of the development process.
7. Roll out the first version of your app
The goal of this step is to roll out an MVP — Minimum Viable Product — that would let you test your concept before you make huge investments in the app itself. The MVP version of the app normally comes with primary features to make it usable for the 'early adopters' or first users. They typically provide you with feedback and help you better understand in which direction you should move your app.
8. Gather user feedback and improve product
Once you gather user feedback, you can start working on further updates to your product. Adding secondary features, fixing bugs, polishing UI/UX, and so on and so forth. The only way to deliver a quality product to the end users is to update it constantly. So make sure you plan the budget for support and maintenance activities in advance.
Consider Lunka.tech Your Partner
Be it a basic health portal or an advanced EMR system, our team is always ready for the challenge. As a telemedicine app development company we at Lunka.tech have years of experience in mental health app design and e-health projects in general.
We know all the do's and don'ts when it comes to mental health app development. We can help clients avoid all the hidden pitfalls and get the results they need in the most effective way possible. Check out our portfolio for some of the amazing projects we’ve had an opportunity to work on.
When building a mental health app it's crucial to plan the development process beforehand. This way you'll be able to keep your budget and delivery timeline within the original expectations. It's also necessary to keep a balance between app functionality and ease of use to make sure users don't get lost among dozens of pages and app sections.
Another important aspect is the team you are creating a mental health app with. If you don't have an in-house team, we at Lunka.tech are ready to assist you in building an app for mental health. For more details on how to develop a mental health app with our team please reach out to our managers!
How to choose reliable mental health app developers?
When looking for trustworthy software developers to create a mental help app, the first thing you want to pay attention to is whether the company has the necessary expertise and examples of developed mental health app products. Check also how the developers communicate and answer your questions, for example: What's your policy regarding source code? What are your QA/QC policies? How do you mitigate risks? And so on. When talking to a potential development partner, ask them to give you contacts for some of their past clients. That way you can reach out and get their feedback regarding the quality of work/cooperation with this particular team.
How much does it cost to make a mental health app?
The cost of making a mental health care app gets assessed for each project individually so there's no 'one-size-fits-all' answer. To calculate the project budget you typically want to assess the app's complexity, the number of features, the platforms you want to build your product for (iOS or Android), UI/UX, and the development approach (in-house or outsource). For more about the aspects that influence the development budget read our article How To Estimate Telemedicine App Development Cost.
How do mental health startups earn revenue?
There are basically several monetization models that telehealth app developers implement in their products to generate profit: paid app (user charged a one-time fee when buying an app), freemium (user gets the app for free but is charged an extra fee for the access to the advanced functionality), in-app advertising (developers generate revenue by displaying third-party ads within their app), and subscription model (users are charged with a recurring monthly, quarterly or yearly fee).
How to make a mental health app successful?
To make a mental health app a success it needs to fit the particular healthcare niche, have a high-quality user interface, and have functionality relevant to the expectations of the target audience. If you want to develop such a product, contact our team so we can discuss your project in detail.